Changes Ahead For Pass Christian Schools

"This looks like their sticker book," one volunteer commented as he picked up a book.

"Are you saving the mysteries?" another volunteer asked.

The volunteers from Missouri are sorting through 5,000 books that were donated to the Pass Christian School District.

"It's rather chaotic, yes," said elementary school librarian Susan Ware.

The books will help replace the countless volumes that got soaked when Katrina gutted Pass Elementary and flooded Delisle Elementary.

"We're waiting on the shelves right now," said Ware. "They say they're coming in July, next week I think. Hopefully, we'll get them on the shelves and check out books to the students."

Over at Pass Christian High, crews are also busy trying to repair the school after 17 feet of water rushed through the building.

"We've been working very, very hard trying to get it renovated, and up and going for our school year beginning in August," said Superintendent Dr. Sue Matheson. "We're hopeful. We're hopeful we'll be able to start school there. If not, it will be shortly after."

The school district is also making progress on plans to rebuild two schools that were destroyed by Katrina. The district wants to put Pass Elementary and Pass Middle School under one roof, and locate the building on the old Middle School property.

"It is one of the highest points in Pass Christian," said Dr. Matheson. "We've checked with FEMA. We certainly had to check to make sure the elevations are high enough and FEMA has assured us that they are. And that's where we plan to rebuild."

Until the building begins, the students will continue to attend school in portable classrooms, and look forward to starting a new chapter, after a rough and trying school year.

"It would be wonderful," Susan Ware said with a smile. "We're waiting for normal. We don't know what normal is going to be, because everything is so changed."

The Pass Christian School District hopes to start construction on the new Kindergarten through 8th grade school by the end of the year, and have the school ready to open by August of 2008. Insurance money and federal funding will help pay for the project.

The district also plans to convert the old Pass Elementary site into an athletic complex. An architect is working on designs for a new central office, maintenance, and transportation building that will go up on the current Delisle Elementary property.